Convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev may have his life spared if death penalty opponent Sister Helen Prejean – who inspired the 1995 Susan Sarandon film Dead Man Walking – has her way.
On Monday, the Catholic nun took the stand in Boston during the penalty phase of the 21-year-old’s trial and said she believed that Tsarnaev was “genuinely sorry for what he did,” according to The New York Times.
She said that Tsarnaev told her that “no one deserves to suffer like [the victims] did.”
“I had every reason to think he was taking it in and he was genuinely sorry for what he did,” said Prejean, 76, who added that she has met with Tsarnaev five times over the past couple of months, CNN reports.
Prejean said that Tsarnaev “kind of lowered his eyes” when he spoke about the victims and that his voice “had pain in it.”
The nun, who is a vocal opponent of capital punishment, was the last of 44 witnesses to testify for the defense during the penalty phase of the trial. Last week, when the defense announced it would call on her to testify, the prosecution said it would object, The New York Times reported. However, Judge George A. O’Toole Jr., who is presiding over the case, decided shortly before Prejean took the stand on Monday that she would be allowed to testify.
Jurors will now decide Tsarnaev’s fate. His defense team is hoping for life in prison without the possibility of parole rather than the death penalty.
Tsarnaev was found guilty on April 8 of 30 criminal counts related to the bombing, which killed 3 people and injured more than 260 others. Of the 30 counts against him, 17 carry the possibility of the death penalty.
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